Athens 2004 Games were the ‘best’

What effect will the Olympic Games have on architecture, culture, and social and economic development in China? It will be apparent in different ways. For instance, Beijing will have more days with a clear, blue sky, and tourism will develop with so many foreigners visiting the city. Are the preparations having any impact on the everyday lives of residents? I hope they have a positive impact, both on the way residents think and on their everyday lives. What are the advantages and disadvantages for Beijing as the host of the Olympic Games? Beijing is perfectly capable of hosting the Games. China has a long history and a great culture, and the people are very hospitable. I’m not so sure about the disadvantages. Maybe traffic congestion. Or air pollution. Or maybe that the people here are so willing and friendly that visitors won’t realize they are overeating. Are you worried about air pollution? Yes, very. Beijing has very poor air quality and that is a problem that must be solved. But that issue doesn’t only concern Beijing. It’s global. One of the subjects we are preparing for the opening ceremony has to do with pollution. If you had to make a film about Beijing before and after the Olympic Games, what would you choose to film? I made the advertising film for China’s bid to hold the 2008 Olympic Games. The film promotes friendship and hospitality as the city’s big attractions. That is probably how we will be able to present the continuity and cohesion of our culture, and not just through the works we have built to host the Olympic Games. Will the opening ceremony focus on traditional or contemporary China? On both. China is a country that combines a long history with rapid development through dynamic economic policy. So the ceremony will show both the grandeur of traditional China and its contemporary glamour. What did you think of the opening ceremony in Athens in 2004? They were the best Olympic Games ever. I was there and I met the director, Dimitris Papaioannou. I met him again a few days ago and we had a long talk. Beijing has a lot to learn from Athens. The opening ceremony was innovative: It broke away from the way the show and group gymnastics had been presented till then. It gave spectators one surprise after another. I hope the opening ceremony in Beijng will be as successful. The main difference will be the music. We have chosen a different style.